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NSA meets Sushma, Jaitley to brief them on LoC killings

delhi Updated: Jan 15, 2013 11:12 IST

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National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon on Tuesday met senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to brief them on the situation on the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday even as India on Monday took a tough stance against Pakistan over the killing and mutilation of two of its soldiers.

Amid tension with Pakistan on the LoC, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday spoke to BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj and assured them that the Opposition would be kept in loop over the situation.

He told them that National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon would brief them on Tuesday on the developments on the LoC, where tension prevails ever since Indian soldier Lance Naik Hemraj was beheaded in an attack by Pakistani soldiers on January 8.

Sources said Singh told Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, that nothing is being done which could not be communicated to the Opposition leaders.

He said the Opposition would be kept in loop over the situation and appealed to them that the issue should not be politicised.

The Prime Minister reached out to the Opposition leaders on a day when Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh talked tough and warned Pakistan that India reserves the right to retaliate at the "time and place" of its choosing.

'Will try best to save peace process'

Notwithstanding Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh's tough talk on Pakistan on the recent ceasefire violations on the LoC, the government has said it will try its best to ensure that the peace process was not derailed.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid, who was in Thimpu on a two-day official visit, said the assessments of what has
happened can only be received from the army which is in control on the ground.

"So ultimately, we will have to go by their assessments. But the decision about how we proceed, at what pace, in what manner etc is obviously a decision that is taken by the government," the Minister told reporters.

Khurshid added that the government was of the view that India had made an enormous investment into the peace process and would hence not want it get "derailed".

"When you make an enormous investment in the peace process, you don't do it just because it sounds good. You do it because there is objective and practical need for peace, because the cost of not having peace is much greater rather than the cost of investing in peace," he said.

He underlined, "Therefore, we are today still committed and trying the best that we can do to ensure that peace is not derailed, certainly not derailed beyond the extent to which we have seen it getting derailed".

His remarks came in response to questions regarding what the Army chief had said earlier in the day.

'Beheading unpardonable'

The Army chief termed as "most unpardonable" and "unacceptable" the beheading of Hemraj.

Army chief Gen Bikram Singh on Monday said his forces "reserve the right to retaliate" after a strong protest was lodged with the Pakistan Army at the flag meeting along the LoC, which divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries.

Pakistan denied the charge, news reports said.

The Jan 8 killing of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance Naik Hemraj - who was decapitated - in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops was a "gruesome and an unpardonable act", said the Indian Army chief.

BJP leaders meet martyr's family

Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and party leader Rajnath Singh met the family of Lance Naik Hemraj earlier in his home town Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.

Gadkari demanded that the Indian government should "isolate" Pakistan.

"The Pakistani government is provoking people with what they are doing," he told reporters, demanding an apology. "The government should isolate Pakistan as the incident has disturbed not just the family of the slain martyrs but also every Indian," he added.

'3rd beheading incident in 13 years'

The mutilation of two Indian soldiers and beheading of one of them on Jan 8 was not the first such incident by Pakistani soldiers, sources said on Monday.

"This is the third incident in the last 13 years. In May 2000, an Indian army soldier was beheaded by Pakistani troops along the LoC. Last July, two Indian troopers were decapitated by Pakistani soldiers," an official said.

Army chief General Bikram Singh also said at his press conference in New Delhi on Monday that such beheadings had taken place earlier.

Asked if if two soldiers of Kumaon regiment had been beheaded by Pakistani soldiers earlier, he said "such an incident had taken place".

Asked about another such incident concerning Rajput Regiment, Bikram Singh said situation along LoC was dynamic and there was action and reaction.

He denied that the incidents were hushed up and said the information was shared with the defence ministry. "In a democracy, there is transparency," Gen Singh said.

He said the Jan 8 killing of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance Naik Hemraj - who was decapitated and his head taken away - in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops was a "gruesome and an unpardonable act" and the army "reserved the right to retaliate" at a time and place of their choosing.

He said that the incident had strategic complication in terms of beheading.

Asked if Pakistan would up the ante by ceasefire violations in new areas across the LoC, he said: "I do not suppose this will happen."